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Abortion - a Moral Issue

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Many people believe abortion is a moral issue, but it is also a constitutional issue. It is a woman's right to choose what she does with her body, and it should not be altered or influenced by anyone else. This right is guaranteed by the ninth amendment, which contains the right to privacy. The ninth amendment states: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." This right guarantees the right to women, if they so choose to have an abortion, up to the end of the first trimester. Regardless of the fact of morals, a woman has the right to privacy and choice to abort her fetus. The people that hold a "pro-life" view argue that a woman who has an abortion is killing a child. The "pro-choice" perspective holds this is not the case. Before the 1973 landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wage, whereby abortion was effectively legalized, women died by the thousands at the hands of back-alley butchers. Since Roe, less than 1 woman in 100,000 will die from an abortion. In fact, the procedure results in fewer deaths than childbirth or even a shot of penicillin. Despite the official legality of the procedure, it is still largely under attack by opponents. The fight is far from over, and is important that anyone who champions a woman's right to choose understand the ongoing threats abortion faces. The New Civil War offers a clear, compelling explanation of the issues surrounding the procedure and the ways in which antiabortion activists attempt to criminalize it.

Divided into five parts, The New Civil War does not leave one stone unturned. This collection of essays is well written, succinct, and concise. Indeed, such a book is a necessary resource for anyone interested not only in the abortion debate, but also in the overarching patriarchal structures that create and maintain women's subordination.

Part I is entitled "The Sociopolitical Context of Abortion." The first chapter in this section reviews abortion's status in the courts since Roe. Wilcox, Robbernnolt, and O'Keefe highlight the necessity for psychologists to remain vocal in the debate, primarily by providing research supporting the findings that abortion does not promote ill effects in those women who have them. Antiabortionists continue successfully to push forth legislation designed to prevent women from willfully terminating their pregnancies. Despite Roe, it is increasingly difficult for women to access abortion providers.

Chapter Two questions why abortion persists as a volatile, controversial debate in this country. Since the passage of Roe, members of Congress have introduced over 1000 bills regarding abortion. Russo and Denious delineate the underlying assumptions held by activists on both sides of the debate: those who endorse abortion rights maintain that it leads to individual freedom and equality for women, while opponents contend that abortion is a threat to morality and "social cohesion." In Chapter Three, Henshaw provides an extensive index of the barriers between women and their ability to access abortions. Citing a staggering array of statistics, Henshaw strongly asserts that the "choice" to abort is not always feasible for many women. For instance, 94% of nonmetropolitan U.S. counties have no abortion provider, and 86% of family planning clinics report regularly experiencing at least one form of harassment from protestors.

Antiabortion activists employ a twofold plan in their struggle to criminalize the procedure. The first involves backing legislation that outlaws such things as certain abortion methods and the use of public funding to be used in family planning clinics, which reflects a long-term strategy aimed at eventually prohibiting all abortions. The second includes clinic blockades and harassment of women as they attempt to cross the line of picketers, in efforts to dissuade individual women from terminating their pregnancies. Chapter Four completes the first section of the book with a discussion about the impact of antiabortion protests on women who undergo the procedure. Cozzarelli and Major provide a comprehensive review of the history of the antiabortion movement in this country, offering readers a context from which to understand such activity.

Entitled "The Cultural Context of Abortion," Part II reviews the effects abortion has on women of color. When women are lumped together as a general category falling under the rubric of "female," important racial and cultural distinctions are elided. Abortion does not affect all women in the same way, and this section implies sensitivity to this fact. Chapter Five discusses how most Black women are not represented in popular abortion discourse. In fact, less than 5% of Black women are involved in the U.S. prochoice movement. Black women tend to focus more on framing the issue in terms of a more inclusive reproductive rights movement. This notion calls for improved systems of basic health care rather than simply a fight centered on abortion rights. Chapters Six and Seven involve Latinas and Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIAs), respectively. In Chapter Six, Erickson and Kaplan point out that Latinas have higher abortion rates than their white counterparts, yet little is known about how the procedure effects these women. In Chapter Seven, Tanjasiri and Aibe maintain that American-born APIAs tend to be more accepting of abortion than those born in countries prohibiting the procedure altogether. What is particularly impressive about this section is the fact that while many texts marginalize women of color as they explicate white women's efforts to maintain abortion rights, this section explicitly places women of color at the forefront. It offers them agency in an issue that has historically been a white woman's battle in the United States.

The chapters comprising Part III, entitled "Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Contexts of Abortion," examine the myriad factors that



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